When we think of the "dangers" of TV and children, we're reminded of studies about kids watching too much TV or TV shows that encourage violence, overeating, or bad habits. And while there is some controversy about those issues, there is little doubt that TV becomes a real danger to kids if a set falls on them.
A study published in July by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that "more than 17,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency departments each year for a TV-related injury, equaling one child every 30 minutes."
Flat-screen TVs may be lighter than the old cathode ray tubes but, says Ryan Hagberg of Sanus (a company that makes mounting brackets and furniture to secure TVs), "they've become much bigger and more top heavy so they're more susceptible to being tipped over." He said that one danger is when parents put the remote on top of the TV "and a curious child wants to get to that remote to turn the TV on so they end up climbing up the stand that holds the TV and grabbing the top of the TV and pulling it over on themselves." A colleague of mine suggested another possibility: could kids be poking at TVs, thinking that they are touch screens?
The study also found:
- There was a 125 percent increase from the number of injuries in 1990.
- Almost half -- 46 percent -- occurred from a TV falling off a dresser or armoire.
- Another 31 percent falling from an entertainment center or TV stand.
- Children under age 5 represented 64.3 percent of all injured patients, and boys accounted for 60.8 percent of cases.
- The head/neck was the most common body region injured (63.3 percent), followed by the legs (21.5 percent).
- There have been 215 child deaths due to TV tip overs in the last 10 years.
- Assess the stability of the TVs in your home.
- Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall to prevent them from toppling off stands
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure that you have a secure fit.
- If you have a large, heavy, old-style cathode ray tube (CRT) TV, place it on a low, stable piece of furniture.
- Use brackets, braces, or wall straps to secure unstable or top-heavy furniture to the wall.
Sanus' Ryan Hagberg said that if wall-mounting is not an option, families should consider strapping the TV to the stand or look for stands that enable you to secure the TV.
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